Simple Dyeing Technique : Paint With Dye Video

We get questions everyday about dyeing our cotton canvas. Painting with a thick dye paste is one of my favorite dyeing techniques. A dye paste allows you to control where the dye goes unlike a liquid dye. It only requires few supplies and is simple to do. The dyes and paste I use can be used on any of our cotton canvas fabrics. (not Sunforger, Waxed Canvas or Canvak) In the video I experiment on our #12 Cotton Duck and #4.  Dye paste can be used to screen print with dye as well! You can get crisp detail without the dye bleeding or running. There is so much fun stuff to do with it! We hope you like this quick video.  Check out the links below for specific materials used.

How to Paint or Print with Dye Paste

Here are the links to the materials I use in the video:

PRO PRINT PASTE SH (Dye Thickener)

MX DYES

DYE ACTIVATOR

MY FAVORITE BRUSH

The Double Felled Seam

Getting comfortable with the double felled seam can really come in handy!  Seam tape is my best friend with this seam!  Forget all that pinning!  This the strongest and most water tight seam.  It is commonly used for awnings and projects where the back needs to look just as nice as the front.  It is also a great way to do bags without a lining.  Check out the quick video below.

How sew a double felled seam

7 Tips for Sewing Ripstop Nylon Fabric

If you are sewing light fabrics like ripstop nylon for the first time you might be surprised at how frustrating it can be compared to heavier materials.  If you are set up for heavy fabrics you will want to make sure you have the right needle and thread for ripstop. Also, nice sharp scissors or a rotary cutter, and possibly painters tape.  If you are working with a coated ripstop like our 70 Denier Coyote Brown it will be a little easier than something uncoated like a micro denier. Here are a few more tips that have helped me out.

7-Tips-for-Sewing-Ripstop-Fabrics

  1. Make sure you are using a new sharp Universal 70/10 Needle.

2. An all purpose polyester or nylon thread is great. Some people  like to match the thread the the fabric.     Lightweight nylon fabric = a lightweight nylon thread; however,  All Purpose Polyester Coats and Clarke is available  everywhere and will work great.

3. If you are working with coated Ripstop you may not notice much slipping, but if you ARE, painters tape is great fast way to hold your seams in place, so you don’t have to pin through your ripstop.  A long running basting stitch on the edge is a great last resort to manage slipping too!

4. Sew Straight- Use the grid lines on the ripstop to help sew straight.  Sloppy sewing will be easy to notice if your seam looks crooked next to the straight woven lines in the fabric.  Keep in mind ripstop typically stretches on the diagonal.

5. Use sharp fabric scissors or a new rotary cutter for clean straight edges. Once you cut out your pieces it is ideal to sew them up immediately.  Leaving cut nylon lying around will cause your clean cut edges to get messy or frayed making the sewing a little more challenging.

6. Check your stitch length.  If your stitch length is to small it can cause a couple problems.  It can weaken your seams by basically perforating a line down your fabric that will pull apart easily over time.  It can also just make the fabric bunch up, so try and shoot for around 8-10 stitches per inch.

7.  If your project is going to be weight bearing its a great idea to reinforce your seams with a topstich (felded seam)  It will make your seams stronger and if done well will make the final project look more professional.

We have some great closeout Ripstops right for $2.99 or less.  Our Coyote Brown is even waterproof!

How to Make a Snap on Truck Cover with Our 18oz Industrial Vinyl

We have been offering our Industrial Vinyl for a couple months and it has been such a great solution for a wide range of outdoor projects.   With our 10.10oz Sunforger, 600 Denier Solution Dyed Polyester and Waterproof FR Vinyl we have the outdoors COVERED.  Our Vinyl opened up a whole new range of possibilities for us and we were excited to make a video.   Nic, who works at Big Duck volunteered his truck  for the project and here we go….

how-we-made-a-snap-on-truck-cover

The final covered measured 74″ x 59.5″.   We installed the snaps, so the cover would fit very tight with no wrinkles.  We found the great hardware at Mickey’s Auto Manuals & Tools.  If you have a larger truck you can always put a seam down the middle, but the little trucks have the advantage on the project. Go Little Trucks!

Build Your Own Artist Canvas – Video Guide

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It is one thing to love to paint and make art, it is another to actually be doing it.   One of the biggest obstacles creative people have is the proper setup and materials on hand when there is time and inspiration to create something.  I am all about improvising with whatever you have, but nothing beats pushing paint around on a nice stretched canvas.

It can take some time to get your canvas ready, so if you are going to make one canvas you might as well make several to have around. I like to use 2×2’s to make my frame.  You can have them cut exactly to the lengths you want at the hardware store!

At Big Duck Canvas we carry primed and unprimed canvas.  There are things I like about using both types.   Obvioulsy, primed artist canvas is a huge time saver especially for really large paintings.  Primed is a little more expensive than unprimed, BUT you dont have to buy gesso, so that even outs especially since our primed canvas has THREE coats.  Primed Artist canvas also has a really amazing uniform surface.  If I was selling paintings I would be more comfortable using the Primed Canvas for sure.

If you like to use canvas for other projects besides paintings its nice to have unprimed around along with some gesso.  10oz & 12oz Cotton Ducks are amazing for so many projects including paintings.  Check out the video if you would like to see how I stretch 10oz unprimed canvas.

Dyeing Cotton Binding Tape or Webbing at Home

Just like many of our customers I like to use cotton webbing or a cotton binding tape to trim #4 floor cloths.  For most Etsy sellers or independent designers it doesn’t make financial since to buy thousands of yards in all the colors you need.  A good solution is to buy bulk in natural and dye the colors yourself.  In this video I quickly dye about 30 yards of Natural Cotton webbing a light grey color to use as trim.

Fiber Reactive Dyes are PERFECT for Cotton!

One of the most enjoyable things to do with natural cotton canvas is the dye it!  My personal favorite type of dye for cotton is MX Fiber Reactive Dye.  Companies like Prochemical (east coast) and Dharma Trading (west coast) carry it.  My favorite thing about this dye is that it does not have to be heat activated, so it can easily be done outside without burners.  Fiber Reactive dye also leaves behind less waste than the other dyes.  You might have heard the term “low impact dyes” used to describe a dyed product?  Well, I have actually spent a great deal of time speaking with chemists from both of the companies listed above to be sure of the dyes that term is referencing and the truth is that its just another made up term.  All dyes have impact, even natural dyes that require heavy metals used to mordant (pretreat fibers) to accept the natural dyes.   Fiber Reactive dyes are the most gentle dyes out there that will achieve vibrant colors.   The most important thing is to dispose of your leftover dye bath safely. Both of these companies suggest a few things to go with your MX Dye, but I usually just buy the dye activator and it works great.

If you are looking for a certain result make sure to test and make notes and keep recipes.  I typically don’t ever keep notes because I just get so carried away mixing colors.  You never know what you will get!  Have fun!

 

Sewing Basics: How To Sew a Simple Tote Bag

I love this sewing project because these simple steps can be used to make a simple market shopper for a high end carryall that you might see featured in a style magazine or pinned a gazillion times.  These steps are also easily built upon to add a zipper, add hardware, add pockets, trims, or any kind of embellishment imaginable!  I don’t want to get hung up on the dimensions because to be honest its a rectangle that I thought looked like a good size.  I cut it out and cut the rest of the rectangles to that same size.  Just remember that whatever size you like, you will loose a little in your seams.  So let’s get started!

Play Tipi Video Tutorial and Dimensions

A few months ago we made a fun video tutorial for a Play Tipi.  The kind of Tipi you would set up for kids or use as party decor.  I used our Sunforger®Army Duck, so it can even battle the elements outside!

Anyway, for those of you who just want some dimensions to get started I listed them out above.  It’s important to remember that these are just basic shapes and you can adjust the dimensions based on the space you have or the materials available to you.  These dimensions were the result of having 12 yards of 60″ wide canvas and 8ft poles available to me.  Of course I wanted to make the biggest Tipi I could.

I have talked to several people about pole options lately and I wanted to share them here.  Round wooden poles at the hardware store will look really nice, but they are not your ONLY option.  You could also use 2x2s!  They are inexpensive and will be just as stable.  Another good option is bamboo if you have it growing in your area.

Its a play Tipi, so have FUN!

Q&A with The Slipcover Maker: Karen Powell

Karen_Powell_Slipcover_Maker

What do you get when you combine a product designer with professional sewing abilities and an extensive understanding of textiles plus 30 year’s experience to back it up? If you are lucky you will get the person who will be doing your next furniture makeover.  This is Karen Powell of The Slipcover Maker.

Karen first learned how to sew back in Junior High Home Ec class “when learning how to sew was serious stuff.” She zipped through her first sewn project: An A-line skirt made with a floral calico print. SHE WAS HOOKED. It’s no wonder that she found her herself working as a designer in the textile industry sourcing materials from all over the world living in Chicago, Paris, New York and San Francisco.

Today she has a thriving business in her home town, Kalamazoo, Michigan specializing in furniture makeovers with her custom slip covers.  Lucky for us, she really enjoys working with cotton canvas, which is how we got to know Karen. I was fortunate enough for her to answer some questions about sewing and her life.  I chose some of the questions to share here.  Thanks Karen!

Q&A With Karen Powell: The Slipcover Maker

AMANDA: What kind of sewing machine do you have?

KAREN: Juki industrial DDL-5550N for my straight stitch work and Juki industrial Serger MO-6714S for seam finish. Both are fabulous for slipcover making!

AMANDA: What is your #1 tip for sewing beginners?

KAREN: Fabric can make or break your sewing project so, get really good at your craft, spend time experimenting with as many types of materials as you can. Become a fabric guru!

AMANDA: What is the easiest fabric to work with for slipcovers?

KAREN: Cotton canvas is at the top of my list of easiest-to-work with fabrics. I like it because it’s such a simple, stable weave that’s super versatile.

AMANDA: Three words to describe Michigan winters?

KAREN: Impressive. Long. Brrrrrrrrrh!

AMANDA: What is your favorite thing about life in Michigan?

KAREN: My friends.

If would like to make a slipcover check out Karen’s 20 Tips for Slipcover Success.

Karen has some great Before and After images on her Pinterest page.  Here is a nice one!